Republican tax cut, R.I.P.

President Clinton plans to announce his veto of the $792 billion GOP plan Thursday.


Daryl Lindsey
September 21, 1999 2:16PM (UTC)

President Clinton is planning to announce his long-expected veto of the
Republicans' $792 billion tax-cut bill on Thursday. White House sources
originally told Salon News the president would make the announcement
Wednesday, but later said that the decision had been pushed back a day.

It could not be confirmed at posting time whether the shift was related to the
president's health. Since his return to muggy, pollen-filled Washington
from his recent trip to New Zealand, Clinton has continued to have allergy
troubles, White House sources say, making it difficult for him to speak
publicly.

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Through his veto power, the president will put to rest an ambitious GOP plan to employ
a projected 10-year budget surplus to reduce a wide variety of taxes.

The plan would have reduced all income tax rates by 1 percent, cut capital gains taxes, eliminated estate taxes and the alternative minimum tax, eased the "marriage penalty" paid by two-income couples, expanded pension laws and given special tax breaks to various industries.

"This tax bill is bad economic policy and threatens to undermine our fiscal responsibility, and the president won't let it become law," said White House spokesman Jake Siewart.

Clinton has charged the tax-cut measure would hurt plans to shore up Medicare and Social Security, and that it could also bring about "some of the worst cuts in education in our history."

On his weekly radio address Saturday, Clinton said the package would require a 50-percent cut in federal education aid over 10 years, including a massive 20-percent reduction next year alone.

"If the Republicans send me a bill that doesn't live up to our national commitment to education, I won't hesitate to veto it," Clinton told listeners.

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Vice President Al Gore had even stronger words for the bill: "I want you to know that this is dead on arrival at the White House," he said last Wednesday, the day the tax measure arrived from Congress.

The bill was approved by the Senate in August, 50-49, after it cleared the House, 221-206. In the five weeks after it was approved, Republicans spent much of their time promoting the package in their congressional districts, but found surprisingly little popular support for the tax cuts. Polls have shown that Americans are currently more concerned with preserving Social Security and Medicare than with receiving tax cuts.

In a letter sent to Clinton last week, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott urged him not to veto the tax cut. "By signing this fair, balanced and responsible legislation, you will promote continued economic growth, greater fairness in our tax code and greater power for American taxpayers. You also affirm the principles of smaller and smarter government by signing this legislation," they wrote, adding that the bill "does not take one penny from the Social Security Trust Fund."

To protest Thursday's expected announcement, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson announced he would unveil the "Gore Tax-o-meter," tracking the costs of taxes supported by the Clinton-Gore team in lieu of approving the Republican relief measure.

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Daryl Lindsey

Daryl Lindsey is associate editor of Salon News and an Arthur Burns fellow. He currently lives in Berlin and writes for Salon and Die Welt.

MORE FROM Daryl Lindsey

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